Joining the Crowd
Come with me and join the crowd on the brows of Golgotha and look together upon the scenes of the crucifixion, and witness first hand the love of God. It is only here at the cross we can actually see the true power of the cross and why it has impacted the world and raised up nations with the highest standards of life than nations with other religions. You are about to witness God’s magnificent mercy. Before this terrible day, and yet all-glorious day, is over we will have sounded the depths of Calvary love and understand truths never before comprehended! This is a story of the greatest mystery and the most astounding paradox of wrath and mercy and found only in the great revelation of God’s Word.
The Excitement of a Crucifixion
As we walk together with this noisy jeering crowd moving up the sides of Galgotha on this Friday afternoon, let me explain a few things about the man they are jeering that is stumbling along with the Roman guards around him.
Oh! the crowd gives a shout and seems to halt for a moment – He fell again and again rises slowly to His feet almost as if He is determined to reach the top of the steep hill even more so than the crowd that finds His death an event of pleasure. The excitement of the crowd mounts as it moves with Him toward the brow of Galgotha. Today there will be three crucifixions. You can hear the excitement mixed with loud laughter, jeers mingled with the sounds of children playing and imitating the people. Most of these people are like dumb sheep moving with the herd not having the slightest idea what is going to happen before their very eyes. They are so caught up in the excitement they are blinded to truth. They think only of the excitement of the crucifixion, but these people will witness an event that will obsess the nations of the world for the future millenniums to the end of the world! What we are about to witness here today will change the calendar, alter history, create nations and throw the world into convulsions throughout the centuries! Borders will be moved and powerful dictators will fall because of what is happening here today at the crucifixion of this son of a carpenter now struggling to reach His appointment with death.
Arrested at the place of prayer
I will start with yesterday’s events that had their beginning in the Garden of Gethsemene outside of Jerusalem’s walls where Jesus often retreated to pray. The Roman guard arrested Him last night in the garden. The Garden of Gethsemene was His place of prayer known well by His disciples. He had just finished agonizing in prayer and rejoined His disciples when the large crowd following the Roman guard and the temple priests led by Judas Iscariot, an offended disciple of Jesus, approached. They moved through the garden toward Him and His small band of disciples with torches and lanterns as He was speaking to His disciples. Little did they know this would be the last time they would sit and listen to Him as they were so accustomed to do.
We sing the precious hymn, Mercy there was great and grace was free. But let us now see that mercy, if we can, as we follow the Nazerine closely on this terrible Friday weekend outside of Jerusalem.
The first atoning blood Jesus shed as the Lamb of God was not from the physical punishment His body took when it was nailed to the cross, the first blood was the blood of mental anguish as He prayed to the Father in the garden where He was arrested.
Actually, it was here in the garden the first blood was shed for our redemption and not in the dark cold granite halls of praetorium as the sound the lashes echoed down the stone corridors – it was in Gethsemene! The first agony this perfect man and perfect God suffered was not even the humiliation of being cursed and spit upon by the very people He was in the throes of redeeming. It was in the garden he suffered the agony of agonies when for the first time God the Son will make contact with sin!
Throughout the eternities the holiness of the Godhead had only hated sin (rebellion) and judged it with a perfect and holy love for righteousness. But here in the garden He is taking our sins upon Himself. It is here in the garden He identifies Himself with sinful mankind. 1 Corinthians 15:3; Galatians 1:4; Hebrews 1:3; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10; Revelation 1:5. See Him crawling on the ground groaning on His hands and knees in the darkness of the cool darkness of the garden.
This is the Christ who brought the waters of judgment down from the heavens upon Noah’s generation because the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Genesis 6:5.
This is the Christ that caused the Earth to swallow the rebellious Korah clan.
This is the Christ that destroyed the sin ridden cities of Jericho and Ai.
This is the Christ that ordered seven diabolical nations destroyed for their
This is the Christ who rained fire and brimstone upon perverted Sodom and Gomorrah, the five cities of the plains, and plunged them into the abyss of the Dead Sea, removing them from off the face of the Earth.
This is the Christ who loves righteousness and hates iniquity! Hebrews 1:9.
Not the Cross, but the Cup
In the darkness we can hear Him groaning in anguish as He holds the cup of sin to His lips. He falls to the ground groaning out these searching words to the Father in the night air of Gethsemene, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. Matthew 26:39. It was not the physical or mental anguish tearing at His soul that was unbearable, it was the “cup” of sin He held in trembling hands – it was not the cross but the cup and the consequences once He drank it that tore at His sacred heart. The cup of sin which He must drink to become sin for us and thus become the object of God’s wrath. 2 Corinthians 5:21. It was the thought of becoming sin . . . for us! The one thing He hated and had judged severely throughout the eternities and had cast Lucifer from the holy mount of God for – sin and rebellion against their maker – He would now become a part of that sin and become sin for us who knew no sin.
The consequence of becoming sin tormented His divine mind more than all the indescribable pains and inflicted physical horrors of the crucifixion that awaited Him! For you see, to redeem me He has agreed in this new covenant to become sin. Once He became identified with my sin He must take the death penalty which included the wrath of God against sin and separation from God! The death of the Christ was the death of the sinner! That was the thing in the cup that He now held to His lips to drink that tormented Him the most. The crucifixion included the unthinkable moment when He would be separated from God the Father and God the Holy Ghost. He was facing the unbearable reality of being torn from the bond of the Godhead! He would become the object of God’s wrath in my place upon the Roman tree which included all the torments of the sinners judgment.
This is what caused Christ to agonize and cry out praying for the cup to pass from Him – He knew what was in the cup! As torturous as the cross would be, it was not the Roman cross that tormented His mind the most – it was the cup!
Once He drank that cup only the unthinkable awaited Him.
2 Corinthians 5:21.
Trembling, He lifted the cup full of our iniquities to His sacred lips and began to drink. He drank and drank from that cup brimming with the sins of the world until He brought it down again empty. Now He will die in my place as a sinner taking the wrath of the Father in my place! The purpose of His coming into the world when He emptied Himself into a human body to become our redeemer, becoming my substitute, taking my punishment for my sin, was now being fulfilled. It was the only way man could be redeemed justly and God remain just. Romans 3:26.
The agony intensifies, as depression and destitution tear at the brain. The mind of Christ becomes fogged. He is suffering now both mentally and in His spirit. He struggles to rise on His hands and feels what He believes to be sweat running down His face, dropping to the ground, but it is blood. His agony was so intense that the capillaries in the head had burst sending blood through the sweat glands. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Luke 22:44.
For the eternities nothing could separate the Godhead, but when He took our sins upon Him, that wrenched them apart!
All we hear in song and sermon today is the mercy of God at the cross of Christ. But stay with me now and let us see if there was mercy atop the Golgotha hill that Friday. The great paradox of the cross is that mercy and wrath are joined in equal measures. God’s mercy toward the sinner was given only as His wrath was being poured out upon His only begotten son. Why is it we think only of the mercy we received and we hardly hear mentioned the price of pain and shame it cost Him? Now you will see it!
According to Scripture there was the din of a great multitude that came with the priests from the temple and the Roman authorities to take Him into custody. Mark 14:43 Some scholars estimate a crowd of between one to four thousand people in the mob following the traitor, Judas. They approached the Lord with torches and lanterns held aloft. When the soldiers addressed Jesus to make the arrest, there was a sudden wave of power that literally pushed the large crowd backward causing many of them to fall to the ground! Look at them all clamoring to their feet again. Even though He carries the sins of the world upon Him the anointing of the Father remains upon the Nazerine.
Then suddenly there were several loud shouts from the crowd around Jesus! Look! Peter is standing there in the swaying light of the lanterns and torches – Peter with his sword drawn! Malchus the servant of the high priest is fallen to the ground! I heard Peter shout something at the Lord just before he lashed out with his sword. Malchus was on the ground groaning, holding the side of his face! His ear seems to be hanging by skin to the side of his face. Blood is gushing down his neck. The priests are elated! Now they have proof that Jesus and His followers are indeed insurrectionists! Now their charges against Him will stand in the Roman court.
His Last Miracle the Most Spectacular
In the concentrated light of the lanterns that had gathered around the bleeding Malchus, Jesus was quietly pressing between the armored Roman guards reaching out with His hand toward Malchus. As His hand reached the side of Malchus’ face He pushed His hand onto the bloody neck of Malchus. The crowd stunned and silent. With every eye in the circle around Malchus fastened on the hand of Jesus pressed against the side of Malchus’ face the, a strange quietness suddenly fell over the once loud crowd gathering around the bleeding man who had fallen to his knees. Gently Jesus’ hand touched the side of Malchus’ head until His hand was pressed against the side of his neck covered with blood.
It seemed that time was going backward! The blood was disappearing and Jesus was now moving His hand up and over the severed ear. He drew back His hand and the ear was in its place as if he had never been severed. The crowd became electrified as the word of what had happened was passed to those who did not see the miracle. Peter was saved! Jesus had removed the evidence that was against him. The Romans and Jews continued with the arrest of Jesus and led Him back over the brook, through the gate and into the city with the crowd following.
This is the first and only time Jesus healed an injured person in his recorded ministry. It seems as though it was being reserved for these last moments of His earthly ministry to illustrate the purpose of His death. The type is perfect. Sin had injured man’s relationship with God and severed him from fellowship. Blood was shed, the miracle of the cross removed all of the evidence that was against us so that the tribunals of God could receive us back into fellowship once again with our heavenly Father. The miracle removed the evidence and now nothing stands between me and my saviour. As the beautiful hymn states,
Man of sorrows, what a name
For the Son of God who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim,
Hallelujah, what a saviour.
Hallelujah, what a saviour.
They led Jesus out of the garden and back across the brook to the Roman judicial halls, Praetorium, where Jesus overheard Peter at the fires in the courtyard denying Him. Afterward He was led across the city to the governors house to be questioned by Herod, the governor, the man Jesus called a fox, who was more interested in seeing this man that he had heard so much about than for any official reasons. It was a brief interview and then He was led back to Praetorium by the Roman guard.
The court compound was where prisoners were beaten and humiliated. The purpose was to break down the victim mentally. Here they were also weakened physically by the flogging that caused a loss of blood and addled the brain before being led to the crucifixion. They led Him down the cold stone hall into a large flogging room with large rings mounted on the walls where prisoners were strung for beatings. Another flogging post stood in the center of the large echoing room of black granite. Brutal hands grabbed at Him tearing off His garments. His arms were jerked behind Him and a rope was thrown around His hands and tired tightly. They gruffly strung the rope through a ring on the center post, pulling His hands violently up to the ring then secured the end by wrapping it around peg. His hands are stretched high over His head to the large iron ring mounted at the top of the flogging post. The Prince of heaven being strung up like an animal. A Roman stood by holding a chain flog to his side with the chains lying around his feet on the stone floor.
The flogging whip used was made of fine chain with weights attached to the end of each strand. The flogging instrument was carefully designed to cause the chains to cut deep into the flesh as it came lashing across His exposed back.
Once Jesus’ hands were secured to the post, the flogger stood ready for a moment and then suddenly throwing the chain whip over his head he brought it down with a relentless force slashing across the back of Jesus. His body flinched, with each cutting lash of the chains imbedding themselves into the flesh. Each stripe left a new laceration flowing with blood. Again and again the chains came with relentless pain leaving the flesh on His back being cut to ribbons. The blood was running down the back and legs of God’s Lamb. Each time the whip of chains imbedded in the flesh it was pulled across the flesh on His back. You will find no mercy here! By the time thirty nine lashes were given, the victim often lapsed into shock or coma from weakness induced by excessive loss of blood.
Tell me, if you see any mercy here? I see none!
Pain sets in as the back side of the body becomes covered with clotting blood. All this time the sound of laughing and loud jeers fill the room echoing down the halls of Praetorium. As burning pain fills His body, insults, spitting in His face and jeers from His howling executioners are poured out upon Him.
An Uncommon Man At The Common Hall
When the whipping is finished the weakened victim is led to the common hall in the court compound. It is here the victim is intimidated and the mental afflictions continue. The Roman soldiers attempt here to terrify the victim mentally. Scripture records that it was a large crowd that took part in this humiliation. The “band” in Mark 15:16 could have included all those in the compound of the court including the common workers. They had been taught to take part in these “just” executions. In this case the temple priests had endorsed this man’s death and the hatred of the band was religious as well as political. They disrobed Him in front of the crowd and threw an old scarlet robe around Him, probably a discarded scarlet cape of a Centurion, They blindfolded Him, then smote Him mockingly demanding that He prophecy who it was that smote Him. Another came with a crown probably formed from the branch of the thorny acacia tree. As laughter and insults filled His ears the crown of thorns was suddenly pressed it down upon his head tearing the flesh until the blood run down into His eyes and down His face. New bleeding wounds were opened on the head. A rough hand of one of the soldiers thrust a reed into Jesus’ right hand forcing his fingers to hold it. Then they started laughing at Him as He stood there in humility, draped with a dirty cape, blood running down His face and back sides. There He stood amid the crowd of mockers. They bowed and hailed Him as King and spit on him, laughing and mocking. And through it all He could have called ten thousand angels to destroy the world and set Him free – but He never gave that command! My wonderful Savior!
Look closely, do you see any mercy at all in all of this cruelty?
Weak and dazed He is led to Pilate’s porch where the Jews had incited the people to the point of tumult. Pilate wanted to set this good man free but his political life seemed threatened and he washed his hands in a bowl of water before the multitude and turned Jesus over to the people. Luke 23:27.
From the porch where the people demanded that Barabbas the insurrectionist be set free and this Jesus be crucified, He was taken back to the justice hall, disrobed, and pushed down the halls of Praetorium again into the street where the cross beam of the cross was immediately tied to His arms and across His lacerated back. He caught glimpses of His Mother’s weeping face, and the faces of His disciples in the howling mob through His blood blurred eyes. Each time He fell the crowd roared with glee. The Romans sighted dark skinned man in the crowd by the name of Simon a Cyrenian and conscripted him to carry the cross beam to the top of Galgotha with Jesus moving slowly through the jeering crowd, staggering aimlessly only finding direction by the jab of the Roman guard’s spears. Men, women and children mill around Him scoffing and laughing as they moved along with Him to the top of the steep hill outside Jerusalem called Golgotha (the place of the skull).
Have you seen one instance of the mercy of God in these scenes?
Reaching The Place of the Skull
When they reach the place of the crucifixion weakness has increased until the victim can hardly stand. A terrible thirst sets in as Jesus reaches the top of Golgotha. One of the soldiers hands Him a vessel in which He thinks there is water. As His hands tremble He lifts the vessel to His lips to drink, but suddenly gags and spits it out as the bitterness of vinegar and gall fills His mouth. Matthew 27:34 The jug is grabbed from His hand as the soldiers and crowd laugh. But the crucifixion still lies ahead. Two other men with criminal charges are there for execution also. One by one they nail three men to three roughly hewn wooden crosses.
Do you find God’s mercy yet in the cross?
Facts About Roman Crucifixion
There were many ways in which crucifixions were carried out by the Romans. It is said that it was the most perfected form of execution and pain ever devised by man. The Roman crucifixion was intended to end with the body in a state of rigor mortis before death while the victim was still conscious. Rigor mortis is the stiffening of the muscles after death, but the Romans succeeded in inducing rigor mortis before death while the victim was still conscious, thus causing their victims to experience every muscle of the body cramped. So, no matter the type of crucifixion or the circumstances, the end of a crucifixion leaves the victim conscious to feel the excruciating pain of cramp throughout the body. Hurried, or mass crucifixions were carried out with less care and often on makeshift trees, e.g., Alexander the Great executed 2,000 captives of Tyre in this manner; and thousands of Jews were crucified when Titus finally took Jerusalem in the siege which Josephus describes in his history. It is claimed that the Romans had so many masses of Jews crucified all around the walls of Jerusalem of those who were caught attempting to escape from Jerusalem, that every tree within a thirty mile radius had been cut down to for crosses all around the walls of Jerusalem. Some crosses were T shaped, others were huge pointed stakes set into the ground at angles forming an X upon which the victims were stretched and crucified. It is indicated that the cross Jesus was crucified on was with overlapping cross beams at the top because over His head there was a papyri placed with the inscription, This is Jesus the king of the Jews.
The formal or less hurried public crucifixions were carried out like the one described here and in the manner described in the gospels. This would be considered a public execution carried out by law.
Some writers insist Jesus was nailed at the wrists and not in the palms of the hands because nails in the hands would tear out the flesh and would not be able to hold the body weight secure without tearing out. But this writer does not believe this theory because of the literal language used and because in a public execution of this kind the arms were often tied at the elbow securing the much of the body weight. Historical records contain accounts describing the Roman crucifixion as nailed in the palms of the hands and ropes tied securely at the elbow. We take the position that Jesus was nailed literally in the hands and that ropes, as commonly used on crucifixion victims, were used securing the arms to the upper beams. Because Jesus told Thomas to put forth his fingers into His “hands,” we tend to lean toward this literal word in the literal hand the nails were driven. (John 20:25-27) There is a separate Greek word for wrist and also for arm. The inspired Scripture uses the term hand which in the Greek refers to hollowness, referring to the palm of the hand. Some say the wrist was considered to be part of the hand and anatomically this is the only way a nail would hold the weight of His body. If the nails were driven through the palm of the hand where nerve centers and tendons are located it would bring numbness and immediate discomfort to the victim.
A peg was placed on the upright beam of the Roman cross where the crotch of the victim rested the weight of the body through the long torturous hours of waiting for death. Some Roman crosses in ancient drawings show a board or crude wood tablet nailed on the upright beam for the victim to try and use as body support. (See also The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, P. 761, col. 2). There were many different kinds of crucifixions administered by the Romans. Some were tied with no nails used while others did use nails. There was the starvation crucifixion where the accused was tied (no nails) and let to hang unattended until dead. But in Scripture we have enough description by those who witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus to let us know quite well which crucifixion He suffered.
Victims of the Roman crucifixion were normally crucified naked, but the Jews demanded of the Romans that Jewish victims of crucifixion be allowed to wear a loin cloth because of their strict teaching against nakedness. Emperor Constantine had the cross abolished as an insult to Christianity after his “conversion” to Christianity.
When they had disrobed Jesus down to His loin cloth, you can see the abuse His body had received from the beating and lashes. His body is covered with blood. The lashes are swollen and ugly on His back. The crowd stares to see the marks of the battering the Romans had dealt to His body at Praetorium. It is no wonder He stands there as if He is stunned.
A gruff hand grabs Jesus without warning throwing Him to the ground. Being completely off balance His head crashes to the limestone rocks. Two Romans quickly grab Him by the arms dragging Him on the ground to the cross nearby where they drop Him. A foot kicks at Him and He rolls over onto the beam of the cross. They place the crotch of His body over the peg that juts out from the main beam as they position His body for the nailing. The sharp splintery edges of the rugged wooden beam scrape across the lacerations covering His back. His head aching, His ears are ringing – it feels so good to be lying on the ground. But suddenly gruff hands seize His arm jerking it out and stretching it onto the cross beam. The pain shoots up His arm, ropes drop over the arms and pulled tight. Another still moment passes, then suddenly He hears a dull thud, a sudden burning pain fills the palm of the right hand – there are several more sounds of the hammer and with each sound new pain. Someone is stepping over Him and now the same sounds and pain filling the left hand and arm. The legs are grabbed at the ankles and yanked downward, the feet are held together and pressed against wooden a block at the bottom of the cross beam – He feels the nails piercing the feet, tearing through the flesh. The pain shoots up into the calves of the legs causing immediate cramping of the leg muscles. Blood is running from the fresh wounds. But the physical, mental, and spiritual horrors of the cross have only begun.
Tell me Christian, do you see any mercy whatsoever in these scenes? Look at Him! Tell me, do you see mercy, or do you see the wrath of God being poured out upon a sinner? I can tell you that you see no mercy. This is God’s wrath against sin! This is God’s judgment being poured out upon the sinner! The penalty pronounced by the laws of the Kingdom are being meted out – without mercy!
A rope is tied to the top of the upright beams with the bottom placed near a hole in the ground. The Romans begin to pull on the rope as another directs the base to slide into the hole. As the cross is lifted the weight of the body begins to pull and tear on the nails in His hands and feet. As the cross is reaches it’s vertical position it drops into the hole with a sudden jolt, tearing at the wounds around the nails in the hands and the feet. the crotch thumps against the peg sending sharp burning pains up through the abdomen! pressing against the bones of the crotch. Jesus groans and tries to raise the body weight from the peg pressing into the crotch, but to no avail. The effort only creates more pain on the tearing flesh in the hands and feet. Unbearable pain and numbness start moving through His body from the three nails.
The soldiers have finished raising all three crosses and settle down to look over the belongings of their victims. To divide the clothes and possessions of crucifixion victims was part of their pay as Roman soldiers. The possessions of the crucified victims was always something they looked forward to.
The Horrors Of The Cross
There is one torment that was part of the Lord’s torture that is little known or ever mentioned. I was made aware of it through a writing by someone who had made a study of the crucifixion. The worst physical agony of the cross was the effort made by the victims to shift the weight of the body from one unbearable and painful position to another trying to find relief through the hours of waiting for death to come.
From the very early moments after the nailing, the victim begins the most excruciating effort to shift the weight of the body between the fastened points of the body in an attempt to relieve unbearable pain and discomfort shifting the body from one pressure point to another. His first instinct is to rest the weight of the body on the peg at the crotch, but soon He soon discovers that the pain from the peg is unendurable and shifts the body weight to the hands thinking to find relief – but there is none. After only a very short while with the weight of the body pressing on the peg, pain and numbness becomes so intense in the lower abdomen that He instinctively tries to shift the weight of His body from the pain in the crotch by pulling on the arms and hands. He writhes in pain, His head rolls from side to side as He attempts to find relief from the bitter distress, shifting the weight of the body from the peg to relieve the abdominal pains and swelling, then to the hands, and then from the hands He seeks momentary relief by pushing against the nails in the feet.
Will you tell me, where is mercy?
He pulls upward on His arms to relieve the pressure of the body pressing on the nails in the feet and the peg grinding into the crotch. The ropes around the forearm and the numbness in the hands deceive the victim into believing relief would come. By now a throbbing soreness is setting in around the wounds with the pain mounting at every slight movement. Every attempt to find relief quickly becomes unbearable, and He shifts the weight of the body again pressing on the nails in the feet by pulling on the nails and ropes with His arms.
Soon He becomes exhausted struggling with the pain in the arms He slowly lets the weight of the body press against the peg giving relief to the hands and feet – but it proves to be even more painful. He quickly presses on the feet to support the body weight pushing with the legs against the nails. This soon becomes so agonizing He seeks relief by resting the crotch on the peg again to take the pressure off of the nails in the feet and hands. But this brings insufferable pain shooting into the abdomen forcing Him to quickly shift His weight again to the arms.
The heat is unbearable. As He pulls again and again on the jagged wounds of the nails, inflammation sets in, the hands and feet have swollen having no shape, adding pain to pain. The fever reaches the head and a throbbing headache brings delirium to the mind. Now with each passing moment new pains shoot through different parts of the body. He tries futilely to continue switching His body weight from one inflamed hands to the swollen crotch and belly … from one part of the impaled body to another. The arteries of the head and stomach become enlarged, thirst tears at the throat.
The cycle of shifting the weight of the body from the hands to the crotch to the feet could go on for hours depending on the health and age of the victim. Jesus being strong and only thirty three years old would stay alive under these conditions for hours. He died before the other two men because He was beaten severely before the crucifixion. This is probably why He died sooner, because of the extent of beating He took before the crucifixion.
As He moves the body to relieve the pain it only increases. The flesh around the wounds has grown sore and inflamed from pulling on the nails. Pain is added to pain until numbness creeps upward from the feet, inward from the hands meeting in the center of the body. The belly swells, the legs and arms are swollen, the mouth has turned to cotton, and the lips are cracked.
In this state, Jesus looked upon the crowd with compassion. He seems to be wanting to say something, the mouth is moving . . . those who stand nearby heard Him say, Father, forgive them, they know not what they do. The victim hangs there limp, not struggling now as before – He is too weak.
For hours our Lord struggled and suffered all alone with the crowd yelling insults and the Romans laughing. Hour after hour He hangs shifting the body weight from the crotch to the hands, from the hands to the feet, and then back to the crotch. From the crotch, to the hands to the feet; from the crotch to the hands to the feet … until He becomes exhausted. The body stops moving and hangs pitifully impaled still conscious, waiting for death.
Have you seen one bit of mercy through all of this carnage?
The bleeding abates more and more as the blood pressure drops and the heart grows weaker. The tissues under the skin crystallize grinding the nerves under the skin with the slightest movement that feels like ground glass under the skin.
Suddenly the dazed victim breaks into violent convulsions! Each jerk of the body tearing at the inflamed nail wounds and irritating the crystallized tissues. The crowd responds as though awakened as His body jerks and twists out of control. He wants to stop as the nails tear at the flesh, but He cannot.
The end is finally near. All attempts to switch the body weight cease. The victim only seeks to die. He hangs motionless with head fallen to the chest. He manages to let the words escape, I thirst. His parched lips hardly able to move. One of the Roman soldiers ran to the vessel of vinegar again with a hyssop branch in hand. Dipping the hyssop in the vinegar he returned to the thirsting Jesus swatting Him across the face, back and forth again and again. The crowd roars with approval. Jesus attempts to reach the moisture with His tongue but pain and stiffness prevents it, and now He realizes He does not have any strength left. He can barely speak. The crowd is pointing and remarking as the final moment nears.
His Tortured Spirit
Suddenly the priest’s voice can be heard over the crowd, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. The hours have been filled with mental, physical and spiritual anguish. But the spiritual shock and fear Jesus experienced through all of this torment was the deepest of all the horrors of the cross. He had never known fear until now as He gave out with a surprisingly loud cry at the very last, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? He felt abandoned as He lost the last sense of the Fathers’s presence … fear gripped His mind at the moment in His earthly life He needed the Father’s presence the most – something He had not known through the eternities!
In the garden His disciples left Him and He was alone.
The people He had ministered to in Jerusalem who had hailed Him as King had abandoned Him. Now, God the Father has departed from Him that he might experience separation from God which every sinner will experience. He was dying lonely and abandoned by heaven and earth.
The Sign Of Death
The last state of the crucifixion victim is when the muscles begin to cramp in the arms and legs then up into the thighs and stomach cavity, the arms and neck. They increase until every muscle in the body is in the state of cramp while the victim remains conscious. It is the desired result of the perfected Roman crucifixion. All of its victims remain conscious in the final stages while the body grows stiff with rigor mortis – every muscle in the body in a state of cramp! Now the last sign of the end sets in with only death after that. Now His body begins to grow stiff as the muscles start cramping until the body is gripped by cramping – the last symptom of the crucifixion before death.
As you have watched Him die – have you had one glimpse of mercy? We see only the wrath of God poured out upon His beloved son in the darkness of Galgotha. We must see God’s wrath here or we lose the true meaning of the cross and fail to know the depth of God’s love for us!
Against a crimson sky the lifeless form of the greatest man who ever lived finally comes to His earthly end, His mission accomplished, mankind is redeemed and the plan of the ages is consummated. God’s Lamb has secured eternal life for all who will come to God through Him as our substitute.
That whosoever believeth in him should
not perish, but have eternal life. (16) For
God so loved the world, that he gave his
only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth
in him should not perish, but have everlasting
life. (17) For God sent not his Son into the
world to condemn the world; but that the
world through him might be saved. John 3:15-17.
Some of the crowd starts returning to their homes in Jerusalem down the slopes of Galgotha, the Roman soldiers are now restless. The jeering and excitement are all lost in the chill afternoon air. All the shame, the spitting, the pain and beatings, the nails and agony are behind Him. He did not feel the dread of sin any longer – the separation from the Father. It’s finished. No wonder the earth quaked when He cried, It is finished! The last words they heard Him utter. When the earth quaked beneath their feet every eye turned back toward the Nazerine. Somehow they knew He was the cause of the earth quaking – He’s not really dead, some mused.
Those nearby the cross heard the garbled words, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. Luke 23:46 In the end we watch to see His final breath, but He just hangs there so still, so abused, a man who only did good. When His spirit left Him, the body showed no sign.
The remaining crowd grows restless. The Jewish Sabbath is approaching. The Romans know their victims must die before the Sabbath day begins according to Jewish law. One of the Romans stands to his feet holding a thick club in his hand and walks toward one of the three crosses. He approaches the thief and poked him with the club to see how much life was in him. There was a groan from the thief. The Roman stood back, raised the club and then suddenly brought it crashing across the man’s legs. There was a pitiful shriek. Now the victim could no longer use His legs to shift the weight from the hands and peg in the crotch. This would hasten his death – the hour was getting late. He walked over to the other thief and dealt two more blows leaving the legs visibly fractured. But when he came to Jesus to break His legs, he noticed then that He was already dead. Jesus’ legs were not broken as was prophesied in Psalm 34:20 concerning the righteous.
The Roman officer in charge of the crucifixion shouts an order to one of his men. The one spoken to, rises from off the ground with spear in hand approaching the impaled stiff body of Jesus. With the point of his spear hovering under the rib cage. He lowers the spear for a second and then suddenly thrusts it upward into the stomach. A burst of blood and water gushes from the belly running down the legs. The crowd responds with another din of voices. (John 19:33-37)
In the beginning God made us in His image and likeness.
We rebelled and turned plunged the world into a state of hatred and war.
In the end He came to us and became sin for us.
Since the cross we have a way back to God our maker.
In the words of the immortal hymn, Glory, glory! He is mine!
We have just witnessed the spectacle of God’s Amazing Grace
Something God did for man that man could never do for himself.
Is it any wonder lace in the history of this planet?
All through the long hours of the crucifixion Jesus endured that Friday afternoon, God the Father sat in the heavens watching with myriads of angels and let it happen! God sat in the heavens holding constraining the urges of His divine love for the Son because perfect justice was being executed upon the sin He bore for all of us. There could be no mercy – there could only be justice – perfect justice!
There was not one move made to stop the outrage! The unjust carnage of the innocent man on the middle cross was senseless! Yet God allowed the agony to go on hour after hour without intervention from the heavens! In fact, God withdrew His presence from His Son and left Him to suffer the sinner’s death of separation from God’s presence.
Remember what the chief priests said to the crowd as Jesus hung there? Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. Mark 15:31. No truer words were ever spoken that could explain the death of Jesus. He could have come off from the cross if He had willed it all through the pain and shame of those excruciating hours of torture – but He did not! If Jesus had come down from the cross He would have saved Himself but mankind would have died in their sins. If He stays on the cross He is not saved from the horrors of the cross but we are saved! How true, how very true! He saved others but Himself He cannot save. If He had saved himself then we would be lost and millions of souls would miss the glories of heaven.
Look at the cross and tell me if you see mercy! No! You see the dark wrath of God, the fury of His judgment against sin! On that tree He payed the sinner’s penalty to the last agonizing breath!
In the spectacle of the cross the perfect justice of God has been displayed for men and angels to behold. Nothing, no, nothing so reveals all the many facets of God’s love and Grace as does the cross! It is at the cross that man can see God’s wrath against sin. with his eyes what it means to be under Grace. For Him to bear the humility, injustice, and suffering of the Garden and then the Roman cross could have only been undertaken by a God-man.
Now we have the answer to the question, How can we reconcile the perfect love of God with the perfect justice of God? In the scenes of the cross we see them both being carried out with divine perfection!
The cross is a revelation of God’s perfect hatred of sin while at the same time a revelation of His perfect love for the sinner.
We have seen nothing but wrath and the merciless judgment of God against sin. But now let us look again and see the great love of God as we remember that God did this for the sinner! The paradox is now clearly seen. While the cross reveals God’s perfect hatred of sin, it is also a revelation of His deepest love for the sinner! All of the pain and anguish of the cross was to buy back the souls of lost men. So while the cross is a revelation of God perfect hatred of sin relentlessly pouring out His wrath upon His own Son in order to secure man’s redemption, it is also a revelation of His perfect love for the sinner. He did this for you and for me!
WHY? Here is the reason why;
Therefore being justified (Our past legally forgiven) by faith (in the death of Christ when He took my punishment upon Himself), we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace (favor and help) wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of (reaching heaven and seeing) the glory of God.
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him (because He took the wrath for us on the cross). For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. Romans 5:1-11
If you believe that God sent His son into this world to save all who come to Him, then pray this simple prayer of salvation and mean it from the depth of your heart and be born again.
Father in heaven, forgive me my sins. I believe that Jesus paid the penalty for my sins. Now I receive Jesus as my Lord and saviour. Thank you Lord Jesus for paying the debt you did not owe, the debt I owed but could not pay. Come into my heart I pray, In Jesus Name, Amen.